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DEATH OF RICHARD COBDEN.
In the winter of the previous year the state Cobden felt that he could no more readily of his health, never very strong, was such as accept this office than he could the former to cause some apprehension. In November one which was offered him. He did not he had been on his annual visit to Rochdale, reply to the letter till the 13th, though proto address his constitue ts, and was in a weak bably he had decided immediately what course and depressed condition. The meeting was a he would take. The offer was kind, the terms large one, and he spoke at unusual length and in which it was made were most gratifying, with much earnestness, dwelling especially on as in his reply to Mr. Gladstone he acknowthe condition of the peasantry of England in ledged, but the state of his health, he said, relation to the land, and advocating what precluded him from taking any office which may be called free-trade in land. On several involved the performance of stated duties at other subjects he touched with his usual em- all seasons of the year, or left a sense of rephasis and effect, so that the exertion was sponsibility for the fulfilment of those duties considerable. Instead of being able at once by others. These he considered were good to retire and to enjoy complete repose, he was and sufficient reasons for his exemption from obliged to attend an evening reception of the the cares of salaried official life; but these principal Liberals and to undergo some hours were not all, he could not conceal the real of talking and hand-shaking. He suffered reason, and the latter half of his reply to Mr. much, on his journey home, from what was Gladstone is remarkably illustrative of the called nervous asthma, and the debility which single nature of the man:accompanied the disorder, added to the ex- “Were my case different, still, while senhaustion caused by his exertions. Being afraid sible of the kind intentions which prompted to rest in London lest he should be detained the offer, it would assuredly not be consulting there by an increase of illness, he continued my welfare to place me in the post in question, his journey, reaching home almost helpless. with my known views respecting the nature An attack of bronchitis followed, and he was of our finance. Believing, as I do, that while obliged to be treated as an invalid during the the income of the government is derived in a inclement winter. By the end of January he greater proportion than in any other country had rallied, and he never lost his keen interest from the taxation of the humblest classes, its in or hold upon public affairs, though he re- expenditure is to the last degree wasteful and garded with doubt the prospect of obtaining a indefensible, it would be almost a penal apwide measure of reform in the face of the op- pointment to consign me for the remainder of position of “the privileged classes.” On the my life to the task of passively auditing our 10th of February (1865) he received a letter finance accounts. I fear my health would from Mr. Gladstone, written on behalf of the sicken and my days be shortened by the government and at the desire of Lord Palmer- nauseous ordeal. It will be better that I reston, offering him the chairmanship of the Board tain my seat in parliament as long as I am of Audit, about to be vacated by Mr. Romilly, able in any tolerable degree to perform its an office which was to be reconstituted and duties, where I have at least the opportunity united to the comptrollership of the exchequer. of protesting, however unavailingly, against The salary was to be £2000 a year, and al- the government expenditure.” though the duties of the office, Mr. Gladstone By the early part of March Cobden was able said, would require very high qualities for to walk out a little on bright, genial days, and their proper discharge, they would not be very Mr. Bright went down to Midhurst to see him. laborious. The tender of such an office was He seemed to feel that his work here was nearly not to be taken as an adequate acknowledg- done. Once when they were out together he ment of his distinguished and long-continued looked towards the church and said quietly, public services, but it was the highest civil office “My boy is buried there, and it will not be long which the government had it in their power to before I am there with him.” It was not long. give.
In the following month they lay side by side
The subject of fortitications in Canada was Cathedral, though he had passed it every day to be brought before the house, and Mr. of his life for fifteen years. They strolled about Bright was anxious that Colden should, if among the monuments for a couple of hours, possible, be present during the discussion. It and the natural remark fell from his comseemed scarcely probable that the state of his panion that perhaps one day the name of health would allow him to make the journey to Cobden too would figure among the heroes. London ; but on the 21st of March his desire “I hope not,” said Cobden, “I hope not. My to be present when the Canadian fortification spirit could not rest in peace among these men scheme had to be opposed, induced him to of war. No, no, cathedrals are not meant to undertake it, though the weather was bleak contain the remains of such men as Bright and cold. He was accompanied by Mrs. and me.” Cobden and his eldest daughter, and they At the time of his death Cobden was within had taken lodgings in Suffolk Street, that he two months of the completion of his sixty-first might be near to the Athenæum Club, and year. not far from the House of Commons. He had On the day after the sad event, when only just arrived, and was writing letters to the House of Commons met, the prime minsome of his friends, when he was prostrated ister spoke kindly, but without much tact, of by an attack of asthma. An east wind con- the loss which the country and every man in tinued to blow, and he lay watching the smoke
it had sustained. The best sentence in the as it was carried from the chimneys of the speech was that which said: “That same dishouses opposite. In a few days he appeared interested spirit which regulated all his prito be so much better that he was allowed to vate and public conduct led him to decline see one or two of his friends; but the recovery those honours which might most properly was only apparent, and a relapse occurred, have recognized and acknowledged his public which on the 1st of April became worse,
and services." Mr. Disraeli, speaking for the opanother attack of bronchitis made his recovery position, struck a deeper note. “There is this almost impossible. Even Mr. Bright was not consolation,” he said, “ remaining to us when allowed to see him on that evening; but early we remember our unequalled and irreparable the following morning (Sunday, the 2d of losses, that these great men are not altogether April) he was admitted. Alas! all hope of lost to us, that their words will be often quoted Cobden's recovery was then over. Mr. Bright in this house, that their examples will often be remained beside him, and another old and sin- referred to and appealed to, and that even cere friend, Mr. George Moffatt, was also there. their expressions may form a part of our disThe end was very near. As the bells of St. cussions. There are, indeed, I may say, some
Ι Martin's Church were ringing for the morning members of parliament who, though they may service, that simple, earnest, faithful brother not be present, are still members of this house, and comrade was no longer with them. The are independent of dissolutions, of the caprices funeral was at Lavington Churchyard, where, of constituencies, and even of the course of on the slope of the hill among the pine woods, time. I think that Mr. Cobden was one of the body of Richard Cobden, and that of the these men; and I believe that when the verson whose early death he had so long mourned, dict of posterity shall be recorded upon his are buried. His biographer relates that one life and conduct, it will be said of him that he afternoon in the summer of 1856, Cobden and was without doubt the greatest politician that a friend took it into their heads, as there was the upper middle class of this country has as nothing of importance going on in the house, yet produced, and that he was not only an to stroll into Westminster Abbey. His friend ornament to the House of Commons, but an had never been inside before, as he confessed honour to England.” that he had never been inside St. Paul's The house was hushed and silent, but there
was such an evident expectation that Mr. i Mr. John Morley.
Bright should say something that, deeply
DEATH OF PALMERSTON.
have an op
affected as he evidently was, he rose and en- her brother, Lord Melbourne-selecting this deavoured to say how every expression of in preference to Broadlands as being more sympathy that he had heard had been most within reach of medical advice. The gout grateful to his heart. “ But the time," he had affected an internal part owing to his went on in broken accents, “which has elapsed having ridden on horseback before he was since in my presence the manliest and gentlest sufficiently recovered, and, although all his spirit that ever quitted or tenanted a human bodily organs were sound, and there was no form took its flight is so short that I dare not reason why, with proper care, he should not even attempt to give utterance to the feelings have lived for several years longer, those by which I am oppressed. I shall leave to around him could not fail to feel anxiety some calmer moment, when I may
about his evident state of weakness, not only portunity of speaking before some portion of for the moment, but at the prospect of his my countrymen, the lesson which I think may again meeting parliament as prime minister. be learned from the life and character of my That he himself felt the same anxiety for the friend. I have only to say that after twenty future was clear. “One morning about a fortyears of most intimate and almost brotherly night before he died,” says the Hon. Evelyn friendship, I little knew how much I loved Ashley, “I witnessed an incident which was him until I had lost him."
both evidence of this and also very characAbout a twelfth of the members of the teristic of the man. There were some high House of Commons attended the funeral at railings immediately opposite the front door, Lavington. Mr. Gladstone was there, and a and Lord Palmerston, coming out of the . large number of the old free-traders of the house without his hat, went straight up to Anti-Corn-law League. The French govern- them after casting a look all round to see that ment and the French press offered their re- no one was looking. He then climbed delispectful tributes to the memory of the man berately over the top rail down to the ground who had done so much to promote interna- on the other side, turned round, climbed back tional good-will.
again, and then went indoors. It was clear
that he had come out to test his strength and The year was only just nearing its close to find out for himself in a practical way how when the death of the prime minister caused far he was gaining or losing ground. Not a change in the immediate political aspect. that he had any excessive dread of death, for, People had said that he would never sit in as he put it one day, in homely fashion, to inother parliament, but the remark pointed his doctor, when pressing for a frank opinion
a rather to his probable retirement. Others, as to his state, “When a man's time is up though they saw the signs of age and coming there is no use in repining.' The most touchinfirmity, declared that he would never give ing and characteristic feature of his bearing in while he could get down to the house. at this time was his solicitude to avoid adding
In July, 1865, parliament being dissolved, to Lady Palmerston's anxiety, and the cheerthere was a contest at Tiverton, and Lord fulness which he assumed in her presence. Palmerston went there and was re-elected. Indeed consideration for others was, as in life
During the latter part of the preceding so in death, one of his finest qualities. I resession he had suffered continuously from member that, only a few days before his end, gout and disturbed sleep. He never aban- when, so far as the aspect of his face could doned his duties as leader of the house; but betoken illness, he appeared as ill as a man without doubt they were, under the circum- could be when about and at work, Lady Palstances, performed with much physical diffi- merston, at breakfast, alluded to the cattle culty, and greatly aggravated his disorder. plague, which was then making great havoc Immediately after the Tiverton election he in England. He at once remarked that all retired to Brocket, in Hertfordshire-the the symptoms of the disorder were described place Lady Palmerston had inherited from by Virgil, and repeated to me some eight
lines out of the Georgics descriptive of the not only able, but impelled, to abandon their disease. He then told us a story of a scrape traditional policy, and to adopt measures he got into at Harrow for throwing stones; which disturbed, if it did not alarm Lord and the excess of laughter, which he was un- Derby, who described the action he was obliged able to restrain, with which he recalled the to endorse as “a leap in the dark,” and intiincident, was the only token that could have mated that he yielded for the purpose of supbetrayed to Lady Palmerston how weak he was. porting the Conservative party and continuing ... A chill caught while out driving brought in office. Mr. Disraeli, on the other hand, spoke
, on internal inflammation, and on the 18th of of having "educated” his party to the point October, 1865, within two days of completing where they seemed to have so far given up his eighty-first year, he closed his earthly their previous convictions as to frame a meacareer, the half-opened cabinet-box on his sure of parliamentary reform in which what table, and the unfinished letter on his desk, they had just before called "radical” measures testified that he was at his post to the last.” were included, and even household suffrage
was approached without much hesitation. The death of Lord Palmerston practically But we must now close this long chapter, left no alternative but for the queen again to and after a brief review of some of the lights recognize the position and long public services and shadows of the time preceding the session of Earl Russell, by calling on him to form a of 1866,-lights and shadows which had preministry, which was in effect a reconstruction saged important changes and striking exof the former one, with Mr. Gladstone as amples of progress,—will pass on to a period leader in the House of Commons. There which may well be called one of " leaps and were very serious doubts in many minds bounds." whether the chancellor of the exchequer, with Public regret for the loss of Lord Palmerhis grave, serious ways, and the absence in
ston was sincere and general. Parliament his temperament of anything like the jaunty, was not sitting and therefore the official and bantering humour which had been so marked ministerial tributes to his memory were not a characteristic of the late premier, would be uttered till the following year, when the chanable to sustain the position of leader with cellor of the exchequer moved for an address Earl Russell in the upper house. Gladstone to the queen, praying that an order might be was, it was said, too much in earnest. Every given to erect a monument in Westminster question was treated as though it were of Abbey to the memory of the late premier. grave and momentous interest. How would Both Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Disraeli spoke such a leader deal with a house which con- with effect in their remarks upon the loss tained men of all dispositions, and a good which the country had sustained. Mr. Gladmany of whom were inclined to treat political stone had already publicly referred to other questions with levity or with indifference, ex- recent losses which the country had sustained. cept when they could be turned to party pur- On the 1st of November, 1865, he had been poses?
in Glasgow, where he was presented with It so happened that the session then ap- the freedom of the city, and it was in his proaching turned out to be one, the aspect of reply on that occasion that he said :—“It has which demanded the exercise of those qualities been my lot to follow to the grave several of which the chancellor of the exchequer pos- those distinguished men who have been called sessed; and though Earl Russell's government away from the scene of their honourable was defeated before the close of the year, the labours—not, indeed, before they had acquired measures and even the views of the ministry, the esteem and confidence of the country, but or at all events of Mr. Gladstone and those of still at a period when the minds and expectahis colleagues who were in front of the de- tions of their fellow-countrymen were fondly mands of the public, so impressed the nation fixed upon the thought of what they might that the succeeding ministry found themselves yet achieve for the public good. Two of your
GLADSTONE AT GLASGOW AND EDINBURGH.
own countrymen-Lord Elgin and Lord Dal- | they are also mournful in that I seem to see housie - Lord Canning, Lord Herbert, Sir the long procession of the figures of the dead, George Cornewall Lewis, and the Duke of and I feel that those who are left behind are, Newcastle, by some singular dispensation of in one sense, solitary upon the stage of public Providence, have been swept away in the full life.” Two days after having visited Glasgow, maturity of their faculties and in the early | Mr. Gladstone was at Edinburgh, where he stages of middle life-a body of men strong delivered to the students his valedictory adenough of themselves in all the gifts of wisdom dress as rector of the university, the subject and of knowledge, of experience and of elo- selected for illustration being, “The Place of quence, to have equipped a cabinet for the Ancient Greece in the Providential Order of service of the country. And therefore, my the World," an oration which is to be read in lord, when I look back upon the years that his printed works, and may be said to be one have passed, though they have been joyful of the most remarkable and attractive adyears in many, respects, because they have dresses he ever delivered, interesting alike been years in which the parliament of this for its subject and because of the lucidity of country has earned fresh and numerous titles its statements and the admirable construction to the augmented confidence of its citizens, of its balanced sentences,